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Last week as I organized the end of school year collection of art projects, folders and supplies that were sent home with my children, I stopped myself in the middle of doing so simply to take in the moment. Both kids were running around laughing, excited for the summer adventures that await. And as the sound of laughter filled the house, I was suddenly jolted back to when they were babies.

People tell you once you have children, “it goes by fast so be sure to enjoy every moment.”

As cliché’ as it may sound, the last few years in particular have made me realize just how quickly time truly does pass us by – with everything, not just parenting.

The last few months have brought a lot of moments of introspection and reflection and as I kissed my kiddos goodnight just last night, I looked at each of them and thought, “my goodness how you have grown!”

I remembered the day I sent everyone off to the CMA awards while I stayed back to manage a 1 year old and a newborn. As I was feeding the baby, my son fell and cut his lip. I looked back and forth – one on the floor bleeding, the other on my chest feeding. I quickly assessed the situation and got up and yelled, “Blood trumps Hunger” over and over, even though there was nobody around to hear or help. And just like that, I managed to maneuver a situation I had never been in before. Welcome to parenting!

One minute you are changing diapers and trying to decide if blood trumps hunger, doing all you can to meet the needs of the small humans you have been entrusted to guide and nurture, and the next they are walking through life as two individuals with their own interests and personalities.

It feels like the blink of an eye until I step back and reflect on all the life lived between the moments when they were small to now.

And while those early days of juggling two babies, my career and a husband struggling through addiction weren’t easy, I wouldn’t change them for the world. I look back on it now, often seeming like a different lifetime, through a lens of clarity and one where I can easily designate between the positive things I take with me and those I leave parked in the past.

Life doesn’t come without struggle. That’s just part of the deal. Our greatest moments of growth happen because of our most difficult moments of struggle.

One of the most important lessons I have learned over the course of the last few years is that when you allow people to love you through times of struggle and simply do life together – no matter what the circumstances – there is healing in numbers. There is hope in community.

Vulnerability isn’t easy, nor is struggle. Why do it alone?

When some of us hurt, we close ourselves off from the world and from those who love us, while others learn to lean on the people who care. And sometimes it is during times of struggle that you are given a glimpse into the genuine nature and character of the people in your life.  

Those who meet you exactly where you are without judgment – those are the people to surround yourself with, to do life with.  

The incredible Brene’ Brown said, “vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”

The first time I ever read those words they really resonated with me.

There was a time in my life when I thought I had to hold everything close to the vest. It wasn’t until I learned to let go of that and allowed others in, that my entire life and my entire perspective changed.

Vulnerability certainly doesn’t eliminate struggle, it simply helps you not be alone and to see with clarity, the people who will have your back through thick and thin.

Two years ago, when we made our way to Australia, the thrill and anticipation of a new adventure was at the forefront of everything. Now, that thrill has been replaced by the reality of being back on the other side of the world and although I find myself grateful for many things, it has also had its own set of challenges.

What I have found is that you either crumble at the circumstances and let them defeat you or you rise to the occasion and continue moving forward. You have a choice.

There will always be peaks and valleys in life. Moments of bliss where you feel on top of the world, followed by a devastating plummet. How you choose to handle those moments will define your life.

A peak was feeling on top of the world as we made our way across the globe on a grand adventure for our family, followed by the valley of my marriage falling apart because of addiction and returning home to a life that looked completely different.

Did I cry about it? Absolutely. Did I and do I still have moments of difficulty and sadness, of course. But do I remain there and allow myself to become a victim? No! I embrace every single opportunity to learn about myself and to recreate my life. This is simply part of the process.

A dear friend of mine recently said to me, “it just is what it is.” And it really is that simple.

Am I going to stumble? Yes. Is there going to be struggle? Yes! But just because you have those moments, doesn’t mean you made a mistake or that your life is falling apart. It simply is what it is.

Every decision you make leads you to exactly where you are supposed to be, even if the road to get there is bumpy and full of twists and turns.

When you accept struggle and that circumstances aren’t always going to be ideal, you open yourself up to a new way of life – be it halfway across the world or exactly where you’ve been for years – you change the framework and realize everything is opportunity for growth and to be present in the moment, good or bad.

So many of us are going through life simply doing the best we can. Everyone has something they struggle with that they bring into their relationships, their careers, their everyday interactions. But, we don’t need to allow those struggles to consume us and take over.

It just is what it is.

Struggle has helped me learn to focus on what is truly important. It has taught me to stop looking toward what the future may look like and focus on the day to day. It has taught me to embrace the small moments, to celebrate the little things and to find laughter along the way.

It has also taught me that we are all human.

Life is never going to look the way you thought it should. That’s not how it works. So, embrace it – the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between!!

You never know when you might be the one standing at a peak while someone else looks to you for strength to help pull them out of their valley.

Here’s to not letting the moments of life pass you by!

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